Prince Harry to host games for wounded soldiers in Toronto
Published Wednesday, March 16, 2016 7:54AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 16, 2016 5:30PM EDT
Prince Harry will host a major sporting competition for wounded soldiers in Toronto in September of next year.
The third annual Invictus Games will be played in Canada's largest city in 2017, Kensington Palace announced on social media Wednesday.
The event was created in London after the prince attended the Warrior Games, a similar tournament held in the U.S. Dozens of soldiers from around the world are invited each year to compete in athletic events, adapted to the limitations of those who have been disabled in combat.
The first Invictus Games was held in London in 2014, and the second will be held in Orlando, Fla. in May of this year.
The third will take place in September 2017 in Toronto, with "more competitors, more participating nations and more sports than ever before" Kensington Palace posted on Twitter.
Michael Burns, the CEO of the Toronto games, said he expects more than 600 ill and injured soldiers from as many as 15 nations to participate.
"The thrust of these games is to shine a bright spotlight on these men and women, and the sacrifices they've made for their respective countries, including Canada," Burns told CTV News Channel.
Burns said participants will have a chance to compete in 14 different sports. He added that the format is different than that of the Olympics and Paralympics, and promised that women and men will be competing on the same team in some sports, "just like they would be if they were in combat."
"I think a lot of people are going to be there not just to see what we believe will be great competitive spirit amongst the competitors, but also there to support them in their recovery through adaptive sports," he said.
Kensington palace also posted a three-minute video of Prince Harry making the announcement.
"The journey hasn't been easy for anyone, but thanks to the support of their friends and families, they are prepared to push their bodies and minds harder than ever before for their next challenge," he says in the clip.
Harry explained that 2017 is a significant year for Canada, marking the country's 150th anniversary of Confederation.
"I cannot think of a better way to mark this milestone than by paying tribute to the soldiers and veterans who have served their country so bravely, and to support them along their journey to recovery."
For the first time, participants will face off on the ice, "because this is Canada after all."
Harry said he'll stop off in Toronto in May, on his way to Orlando, to kick off the official countdown to the 2017 event.
Burns added that he has briefed Harry on the games on a couple occasions and he is "incredibly invested" in the cause.
"He is looking forward to meeting not just members of our team, but members of all the teams from the various countries that will be coming to Toronto in 2017," he said.